My first day in Montreal went very well. I arrived on time, zipped through customs and baggage claim then took the Aerobus to the city. The Aerobus dropped me off right at the door of my hotel. Not bad for CDN$22.75 (round trip). I am staying at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth which is conveniently located in the heart of downtown (that sounded like a commercial).
The Fairmount Queen Elizabeth (or "La Reine Elizabeth" as it is called in French) is quite nice for the price I paid. The rooms aren't huge but are nice decorated in tones of warm and pale golden yellows and cherry furniture. The room has a large window but I have no view except for roof tops. The bathrooms are tiny but are sparkling clean with black marble tiles and shiny fittings. Everyone in the hotel is very polite and helpful. I would say this is a 4 star luxury hotel (for US$115 a night!).
Yesterday, I visited about 4 different Montreal neighborhoods. I bounced all over town on the convenient (but not air conditioned) Metro. The Metro is easy to navigate and move you to your location quickly for a reasonable proce. I enjoyed that each of the 4 neighborhoods had a different feeling ranging from modern to old world.
Downtown (called "centre-ville" in French), where my hotel is located, is like any other city in the world. There are tall modern skyscrapers, big luxury hotels, cheap fast food restaurants and blocks and blocks of shops and department stores. Downtown is also where you will find the "underground city" and underground complex od shops, restaurants and food courts that ate linked below the office towers. You could shop underground all day (like a rat) and never see the light of day, rain or snow!
In striking contrast, Old Montreal, which is a short walk from my hotel, feels more like Europe, maybe even Le Marais in Paris. Old Montreal is filled with some good, but pricey, restaurants. There are also enough little gift and souvenir shops to keep anyone busy for a number of hours.
The other 2 areas I visited were typical of any cities local neighborhoods, tree lines sidewalks filled with independantly operated shops and cafes.
I only made 2 purchases yesterday which were 2 black and white enamel plaques, one reading "La Cuisine" (The Kitchen) and the other reads "Bienvenue" (Welcome). Each plaque was CDN$10 which is a very low price for this type of plaque.
Today I will do some more wandering through the city and check out Old Montreal and some of the shopping downtown. I am not sure where I wil eat today but, hmmmmm, maybe it will be something French.
Blogging via Blackberry and Cingular Wireless